Craighead's hat trick helps #15 NMU past Ferris State

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MARQUETTE, Mi. The Wildcat hockey team (15-8-4, 13-5-1-1 WCHA) improved to 3-0 on the season against the Bulldogs of Ferris State (7-19-2, 5-4-2-0 WCHA) behind a hat trick performance by senior Darien Craighead and 20 saves from sophomore goaltender Nolan Kent.

The Wildcats wasted no time getting on the board Friday night, with Darien Craighead netting his first of the game just 28 second in. The remainder of the period was a lot more back-and-forth with Ben Newhouse making a huge save on the doorstep at 15:35 of the first to keep the Bulldogs off the board. Skating four-on-four to the intermission, Craighead scored his second of the night with assists to Michael Van Unen and Brandon Schultz.

Northern Michigan held the edge in shots on goal in the first period, 9-6, with Nolan Kent saving all six shots.

Griffin Loughran added to the Wildcat lead with a rocket with 5:50 to play in the middle frame for his nation-leading 20th of the season.

The Bulldogs would find the back of the net once, late in the second to cut the Wildcats' lead to 3-1 heading into the final intermission.

With their second power play goal of the night, FSU cut the deficit to one goal at 16:14 of the third period but another goal from Craighead to cap off his second career hat trick and an empty netter from Vincent de Mey gave the Wildcats the 5-2 final.

GOALS
Brandon Schultz shook off defenders in the Bulldog Zone, feeding the puck over to Darien Craighead out front alone. With a sliding defender coming his way, Craighead went glove side, beating Ferris State netminder on the upper right. Ben Newhouse also picked up an assist on the play.

Craighead fired the backhander passed FSU's Salmankangas at 18:39 of the first period to give the Wildcats the 2-0 lead heading into the break. Michael Van Unen and Brandon Schultz earned assists on the gaol.

Griffin Loughran skated in all alone with 5:50 to go in the middle frame to give the Wildcats the 3-0 lead. The rookie duo of Van Unen and Andre Ghantous combined for the assists on the breakaway.

Craighead completed the hat trick with a goal at 17:31 of the third period when he deflected Van Unen's shot in the slot. Luke Voltin also picked up an assist on the play.

Vincent de Mey finished out the scoring Friday night with an empty net goal at 19:12. For his 14th of the year. Philip Beaulieu and Ben Newhouse were both credited with assists.

KEY STATS
Griffin Loughran's nation-leading 20th goal of the season ranks him fourth in goals per game (0.77) and his 32 total points is 14th overall.

Picking up his fourth game winning goal of the season, Loughran also sits fourth overall in the category for 2019-20.

Improving to 10-3-1 on the year, Nolan Kent's .750 win percentage is fourth in the nation.

Averaging 3.44 goals per game, the Wildcat offense ranks eighth among Division I programs while their .630 team win percentage is 11th.

The Wildcats own the fourth-longest undefeated stretch with a 2-0-1 record in their last three games, and the longest in the WCHA.

UP NEXT
The Wildcats and Bulldogs face off one more time in the regular season with a 6:07 p.m. puck drop Saturday night, February 1, at the Berry Events Center.

After the game, fans are invited to join members of the team and coaching staff at the Landmark Inn for a 4th Period Party.